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The waves

As the Wind Blows

Location: Chennai, Tamilnadu, India

10 September 2003

Us And Them

The fifth WTO ministerial meet began in Cancun, Mexico yesterday. Focus is on Doha round talks and Singapore issues. While much steam would be exchanged on issues, which are related to trade of commodities and agriculture, I’m concerned that one key issue is getting sidelined.

Man Power Movement.

Although India has assured that it will take up the BPO backlash issue to the forum, one wonders if it would be heard at all in all the din created by the developed countries over the issues, which concern them. Like trade barriers, restriction on manpower movement also spoils the very spirit of Free Trade concept.

On the one hand the developed countries want to sell their products to our country. They want us to remove all trade barriers. So that they can have greater market access for their products. On the other hand, they are erecting all kinds of barriers for our products – namely Manpower.

By selling their products at dirt-cheap prices, they are getting market access here while our desi industries are perishing not able to withstand the onslaught of the foreign arrivals. As industries wind up, unemployment raises. But since we accept the spirit of globalization we take it in our stride and try to look at the positive side of flourishing trade across the globe crossing all barriers. We are willing to compete in the world market. So we accepted the situation of unemployment or local industry perishing and looked for the silver lining.

Sunshine came through sunrise industries like IT and ITES, where our people got jobs in new kinds of areas like Call centers and BPO. What if old economy jobs are disappearing? We have new knowledge economy jobs. So, unemployment scenario would get equalized, we thought.

But no. We have the knife hanging overhead again. Now it is the turn of the first world to turn protectionist. They want to protect their Manpower resources from the onslaught of manpower import from the developing countries. So they have begun to say no to immigrant professionals and in order to curb business going to developing countries, are bringing in legislation on BPO and call centers.

Latest in these series of attacks is the attack on telemarketing business being shifted to India. There is a new legislation in the US, wherein telemarketing calls are banned to the numbers registered under “No call” registry. It is an offence to do telemarketing to these numbers. But according to a recent news item, canvassing calls made for political campaigns to garner votes, don’t come into this category. And it seems the opposition is picking up momentum among bloggers.

Why? Because the US Presidential elections are due in 2004 and it appears moves were on to give the job of telecanvassing for Bush to a Call center in India! Now you know why the American Bloggers are aghast.

In short, they will neither allow us to protect our industry. Nor will they let us export our only major resource, which has impeccable quality – Manpower.

They want to protect their workforce. Fine. But so do we.

They want a market for their products here and across the globe. Fine. But we want a job market for our workforce – here, and across the globe as well. The game is even, isn’t it? This way, no advantage to any one. It is only deuce all the way.

I am a strong proponent of globalization – I mean the spirit of globalization and fair play. But if other members advocate lopsided policies, could our Indian negotiators at WTO, hold fort and get us a fair deal? I, for one, would watch the on goings keenly.

I hope this posting is read by at least few of the irate US bloggers venting out their angst against India on the BPO issue. So, dear desi bloggers, please keep linking this post :-) and let the blog chain reach the other side.


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